Your fastest resource to understand and profit
from the latest crop nutrition research.

eKonomics is dedicated to busy, business-minded growers like you. In today’s fast-paced growing environment, we know it’s hard to find time to decipher the endless stream of soil fertility information available, so we do it for you.

Our one-of-a-kind tools, unique research, and original content are all designed to quickly interpret and generate more profits from the most recent data. With easy-to-understand breakdowns of the latest results, and easy-to-implement, profit-producing advice, eKonomics is your number one resource to keep your soil, and bottom line as healthy as possible.

eKonomics agronomists and contributors deliver a depth and range of industry experience that is in a class all its own. Their dedication, insight and talents provide you with credible, product agnostic, and infinitely valuable expertise that is hard to find anywhere else — as shown by the bios below.


Robert Mullen

Robert Mullen, Ph.D.


Director of Agronomy

To say Dr. Robert Mullen is passionate about agriculture would be an understatement. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in ag business from Cameron University, along with a Master of Science degree in plant and soil science and a Ph.D. in soil science from Oklahoma State University. In addition, Dr. Mullen has been published in a variety of scientific and trade journals. But it’s not just his academic accomplishments that make him unique. It’s his unwavering ability to take complex data and — in simple terms — explain how it impacts a farmer’s bottom line. Dr. Mullen delivers the kind of insightful observations that can lead to a more profitable business. As a leading agronomy expert, Dr. Mullen has a goal to further educate farmers on best management practices that improve their yields and maximize their return on investment.

Cristie Preston

Cristie Preston, Ph.D.


Senior Agronomist

Agriculture has always been an integral part of Dr. Cristie Preston’s life. She grew up in southwest Virginia and had interest in crop and animal agriculture since an early age. Once she began college, she initially chose to study animal science but switched to soil science. Dr. Preston attributes her decision partly to an influential professor who told her, “You can’t understand animals until you understand what they eat.” She received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science and a Master of Science degree in crop and soil environmental science from Virginia Tech. Dr. Preston holds a Ph.D. in agronomy, focusing on soil fertility from Kansas State University. While completing her advanced degrees, Dr. Preston conducted more than six years of field and lab research. Dr. Preston has experience in laboratory research measuring volatility loss from urea-based fertilizers. Her field research has focused on phosphorus availability and the interactions with tillage and placement. She also has extensive experience in working with large data sets and analysis. Her main priority is helping growers to identify yield-limiting factors and fix those issues as cost efficiently as possible.

Alan Blaylock, Ph.D.


Senior Agronomist

Dr. Alan Blaylock brings extensive North American and international experience in nutrient management to the agronomy team. University studies and service as a university extension soils specialist prepared him for a long career in the fertilizer industry. Having managed both domestic and global research and education programs, Dr. Blaylock has a wealth of experience in applying science-based nutrient management principles and products to solving practical questions. Dr. Blaylock earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in agronomy and horticulture from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in soil science from Iowa State University. He has been in agriculture his entire life — from his childhood on an irrigated farm in eastern Oregon to teaching soil science at Iowa State University to his current role as an agronomist at Nutrien. These diverse experiences helped Dr. Blaylock develop the skills to excel in translating complex scientific principles into practical solutions. Although early in his university studies he explored computer science as a profession, deep family roots in agriculture brought him back to the people and values of his heritage. His career satisfaction comes from helping others improve the performance of nutrients and cropping systems.

Mike Howell

Mike Howell


Senior Agronomist

Growing up on a university research farm, Mike Howell developed an interest in agriculture at a young age. While active in 4-H as a child, Howell learned to appreciate agriculture and the programs that would shape his career. Howell holds a Bachelor of Science degree in soil science and a Master of Science degree in entomology from Mississippi State University. He has more than 20 years of experience conducting applied research and delivering educational programs to help make producers more profitable. He takes pride in promoting agriculture in all levels of industry, especially with the younger generation.

Ray Dowbenko

Ray Dowbenko


Senior Agronomist (retired)

Ray Dowbenko has more than 30 years of experience working with research scientists, academics, industry groups and regulatory agencies on fertilizer and agricultural research, policy, and environmental and sustainability issues. He is also a member of the Prairie Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) Board and was also an original member of the Prairie CCA development committee. Dowbenko holds both a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in Botany/Zoology, Soil Science, Soil Chemistry and Soil Fertility. Dowbenko recently retired from Nutrien, where his primary extension and training focus was with distribution and grower customers. He also worked in the area of new product and market development, product support and extension across Nutrien’s business units. In addition, he provided support on environmental and governmental policy issues to industry associations.

Antonio Mallarino

Antonio P. Mallarino, Ph.D.

Iowa State University

Professor of Agronomy

Since starting his career in 1976 at the University of Uruguay, Dr. Antonio Mallarino has played an integral role in industry-leading agronomics and nutrient management research for nearly 40 years. Currently a professor of agronomy at Iowa State University, Mallarino’s focuses his efforts on soil and tissue testing, fertilizer placement methods, variable-rate technology and phosphorous management impacts on water quality. Known as the pioneer of precision agriculture technology, Mallarino has led groundbreaking research and contributions toward several key advancements in agronomy, including the development of the Iowa Phosphorus Index and the Iowa Nutrient Export Reduction Strategy. For his work over the years, Mallarino has been recognized among some of agriculture’s most prestigious publications and associations. Mallarino’s impressive research history, coupled with his extensive agronomics experience, makes him an invaluable resource to help farmers drive their business forward.

David Franzen

David Franzen

North Dakota State University

Professor of Soil Science & Extension Soil Specialist

Dedicated to helping farmers get the most out of their crops, Dr. David Franzen has conducted research to revise fertilizer recommendations for 18 major crops in North Dakota. He has also played a key role in developing strategies to guide site-specific nutrient application. Among his many accomplishments, Franzen has a B.S. degree in forestry/soils, an M.S. degree in soil fertility, and a Ph.D. in soil chemistry from the University of Illinois. Franzen certainly brings a scientific approach to nutrient management as an eKonomics contributor, but he also understands the business side of farming, making him uniquely positioned to offer insights that help bolster the bottom line. Before joining North Dakota State University, he worked as an agronomist and manager of a chain of fertilizer and agricultural chemical retail locations in Illinois.

Dustin Sawyer

Dustin Sawyer

Rock River Laboratory

Laboratory Director

Dustin Sawyer guides lab analysis practices, processes and quality assurance to provide production assistance to growers, thereby helping maximize yield and increase ROI. He holds a B.S. degree in soil science and chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point and is pursuing an M.S. degree in soil science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sawyer supports growers, crop consultants and agronomists through his work with groups dedicated to improving soil nutrient levels and preserving the soil. He’s active in the Soil and Water Conservation Society, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America. In addition, Sawyer serves as a board member of the Soil and Plant Analysis Council and the Illinois Soil Testing Association. All of which positions Sawyer to bring a unique level of knowledge and insight to the eKonomics program.

Jaimie Bultemeier

Jaimie Bultemeier

A&L Great Lakes Laboratories Inc.

Agronomist & Corporate Sales Director

Jamie Bultemeier has dedicated his professional career to production agriculture, from his time as an active member of the local Future Farmers of America chapter to earning a B.S. degree in soil and crop science and an M.S. degree in agronomy from Purdue University. He leveraged his in-depth knowledge of, and passion for, soil science as a certified crop adviser (CCA) in the ag retail, equipment and technology, and ag service sectors; and he relays those insights to growers as an eKonomics contributor. As a farmer, Bultemeier knows firsthand the complexities around soil nutrients and fertilization, making him uniquely positioned to help growers get the most out of their crops.

Paul Fixen

Paul Fixen, Ph.D.

International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI)

Director of Research

Growing up in southwestern Minnesota on a crop and livestock farm, Dr. Paul Fixen learned the ins and outs of the agriculture industry starting at a very young age. He later went on to earn his Ph.D. in soil fertility and soil chemistry from Colorado State University in 1979. As the current director of research at the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), Fixen has been immersed in the industry’s most cutting-edge research over the last 20 years. His vast experience – both domestically and internationally – puts Dr. Fixen in a unique position to offer farming best practices, tips and advice to help farmers make the best decisions to grow their yields and ultimately their bottom lines.

Randall Miles

Randall J. Miles, Ph.D.

The University of Missouri

Associate Professor & Soil Scientist

Dr. Miles is a soil scientist on the faculty of the University of Missouri Department of Soil Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences. He received his B.S. and M.S. in agronomy (emphasis in soil science) from Purdue University and Ph.D. in soil genesis from Texas A&M University. He is director of the Missouri SmallFlows Wastewater Education/Research Training Center, as well as the director of historical Sanborn Field, the third oldest continuous research field in the world. Additionally, Dr. Miles is curator of the historical Duley-Miller soil erosion plots. With these two historical fields, Dr. Miles has also emphasized long-term sustainability and soil organic matter relationships in his research efforts.

Fabian G. Fernandez, Ph.D.

Fabian G. Fernandez, Ph.D.

University of Minnesota

Assistant Professor in the Department of Soil, Water and Climate

Dr. Fabian G. Fernandez is an assistant professor in the Department of Soil, Water and Climate at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His major responsibilities include research and extension education in nutrient management for crop nutrition and environmental protection. Fernandez was born and raised in the Pampas region of Argentina. He earned his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2006, and M.S. and B.S. degrees from Brigham Young University in 2002 and 2000, respectively. Before joining the University of Minnesota in 2013, he had been an assistant professor at the University of Illinois since 2006. The research and extension education programs of Dr. Fernandez are focused on soil nutrient management and plant mineral nutrition. His current work at the University of Minnesota concentrates primarily on environmental issues related to nutrient management for corn cropping systems. He seeks to identify and implement nitrogen management practices that are sustainable both in terms of minimizing environmental impacts, specifically water quality, and improving crop yields.

Mike Dailey

Mike Dailey

Independent Certified Crop Adviser

With more than 35 years of experience in the industry, Mike Dailey, independent certified crop adviser (CCA) and winner of the 2012 Ohio CCA of the Year award, is proud to work with farmers on a one-on-one basis to give unbiased, professional advice to maximize yields. A graduate of Ohio State University’s esteemed agriculture program, Dailey has maintained his CCA certification since 1994 – the first year the certification was available. In addition, he has held numerous positions in both the government and private sectors, including eight years of service on the Ohio CCA Advisory Board (serving as president for two years) as well as president of the Ohio Association of Independent Crop Consultants.

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